Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: How to make saffron more aromatic than ever -- and how to stretch it.
There are things we approach in the kitchen with care, with hesitation, and, maybe, with a little bit of fear: tempering eggs, making aioli, inverting a just-cooled cake onto a platter.
Cooking with saffron falls into this territory.
We know it's delicate; we know it's expensive. So when we reach for it, we do so haltingly, sparingly. The dishes we use it in -- paella, ice cream, bouillabase -- are saved for special occasions, celebrations, moments we want to savor.
But thanks to Paula Wolfert and her book The Food of Morocco, we can stretch our saffron -- and get more bang for our buck -- while making it taste bigger, bolder, and more aromatic than out of its jar. All it takes is some warm water; once the saffron soaks in the water, the entire jar becomes perfumed. In fact, as Wolfert says, "I’ve discovered that if I soak all the ground spices called for in a recipe in a little saffron water before adding them to the dish, the moistening intensifies and better distributes their combined flavors." Here's how to change your saffron game.
Dry your saffron in a warm skillet, then crush it to pieces.
Soak the dried, crumbled saffron in warm water; the ratio should be one cup of water for every 1/2 teaspoon of saffron. You can store this in the fridge for up to a week. Two tablespoons of this magic water will equal one good pinch of saffron.
If you want to keep your saffron-water around for more than a week, pour it into non-reactive ice cube trays and freeze. One ice cube will equal 1 pinch of saffron.
What are your favorite ways to use saffron? Let us know in the comments!